Baumer Lecture Series, Rosetta Elkin


Sep 27, 2023



Knowlton Hall, Gui Auditorium
United States

Is planting a tree a political act? In this lecture, Rosetta Elkin will explore the basic parameters of what designers call "species selection" and why it matters, by describing some of the world's largest planting projects. The evidence reveals planting a tree can either be one of the ultimate offerings to thriving on this planet, or one of the most extreme perversions of human agency over it.

Rosetta Elkin is the academic director of the Masters in Landscape Program and associate professor in the School of Architecture at Pratt.

Elkin works with landscape as a practice and a medium. One of the most direct ways to engage with landscape as a designer is to pay attention to plants; through behavior, across time and in our everyday lives. When I want to learn more about a plant, I pursue growth, not form. Most often, this draws me into the ground since plant life develops underfoot.

In writing and scholarship, Elkin aims to experiment with the ways in which we compose our worlds, blurring the traditional boundaries in the research process. Professionally, Elkin is the founding Principal of Practice Landscape, a collaborative studio that prioritizes landscape-making, gardens, public exhibitions, and horticultural design to promote a more thoughtful and accountable design agenda, while Practice Grant supports community attempts to expand land-based practices.

Elkin is also a Research Associate at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Her work has received numerous awards including the Graham Foundation Grant, Harvard Climate Solutions Award, and the Garden Club of America Rome Prize in landscape architecture and has been exhibited widely in venues such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Les Jardins de Metis, Chelsea Festival, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Authored books range from a survey of tree planting programs across drylands in Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation (University of Minnesota Press, 2022) and Tiny Taxonomy (Actar 2017) a publication which reflects on the scale of individual plants through a reading of three garden installations. Elkin’s most recent book project is a fieldwork-based portrait of climate adaptation around the world, entitled Landscapes of Retreat (K. Verlag, 2023). Elkin has published widely in magazine, journals and other media. Elkin believes in open access publishing, so all titles are also available on Elkin’s website.

The Baumer Series invites prominent researchers and practitioners of architecture, landscape architecture, and city and regional planning to present their work and to engage subjects both topical and enduring.